South African rap wears many faces, and one of its most prominent is

Kiernan Jarryd Forbes, better known as AKA, released his highly anticipated third studio album on June 15, 2018, an album he claims may just be his last body of work.

'Touch My Blood', is AKA's first independent release and has already been certified Gold by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) barely a week after its release, even though the rapper is demanding for more from his fans.

But in this album, the talented artist who insists that he should not be restricted to the box of being just a rapper, finally weaves all the side to his music in one piece.

From the political, to the lover boy, his cocky side and pop flair, all the elements are well embedded to give us a taste of all he offers across the 16 tracks project.

'Touch My Blood' starts with the album titled track, where he comes off guns blazing, with his rap coming off as hungry as ever as he paints a picture of his progress in the game.

He is most expressive on the intro touching a variety of topics and he even affords to go political as he calls out the leader of South Africa's official opposition party, Democratic Alliance.

''Pre '94 I was laanie, Post '94, kwensakalani?, grand folks voted for the party, even threw us in the garbage, , say that we are the next Zimbabwe.'', he raps.

The album also sees AKA go soulful on a number of tracks like 'Beyonce', 'Sweet Fire' and 'Daddy Issues'.

On 'Beyonce', he is all emotional as he vulnerably opens up on his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Bonang Matheba; which was a major news item in 2017 when the couple broke up.

''Wherever you are, I wonder if you doing well, remember in London when I took you to see Miguel?, remember when I kicked you out the hotel?, 50 minutes later I was blowing up on your cell?, we was crazy since the pool on some TMZ shit, even made the fucking news on the Mozambique trip.''

He addresses his break-ups on 'Sweet Fire', while he continues the conversation he started on his previous album with the song, 'Daddy Issues' by offering parental advice on 'Daddy Issues' II .

'Reset' sees the album first features in fellow South African rapper, JR and Okmalumkoolkat, where he asks his girl if she would still be there without all the money.

'Magriza' is one of the standout cuts on the project, the beat kicks in slowly and then his voice beautifully layers over it, as he raps smoothly with some Kanye West impressions in his flow.

''I done suffered for the cause, summer after summer I put numbers on the board, damn, am I the only rapper with the balls, to say I don’t really give a fuck about awards?'', he rhymes.

And just when you thought it could not get any doper, Kwesta's delivery makes this a really solid effort.

On 'Fela In Versace', which is produced by Nigerian beat-maker, Kiddominant, who also features on the joint, he attempts to tap into the Afrobeats vibe, while Kiddominant sings about driving through Lekki Epe Expressway.

The album changes mood on 'Star Signs' as AKA goes bar for bar with Stogie T, while JR makes a return on 'Mame' with their verses matching each other perfectly.

Sonically, this is AKA's most wholesome project yet; diverse in sound, wider in appeal, but well conceived in theme and execution, it feels like this time, he has nothing to hide and seeks to make his voice the loudest.

'Touch My Blood' is a heavy dose of rap, sprinkled with a fair amount of pop to fit into modern trends. There is music to make you dance and also enough to fill your book of quotables.

AKA stands in between both worlds of pop and hip-hop and in this body of work, he has found a way to create a right blend, the album which he says may be his last may well be the best that he ever recorded, and help him exit the scene at its highest level.

Rating: 4/5


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